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Research

I am an applied climatologist with interests in hydrology, climate variability, and coastal and island environments of the Caribbean and the southeastern United States.  My graduate work and dissertationinvestiogated the impact of climatic variability upon the flood hydrology of the southeastern United States.  Over the past 15 years, my research has evolved and expanded into the current focus on the hydroclimatology of the Caribbean and vulnerability and resilience of Caribbean societies to climate change.   This research involves a series of project which include monitoring of rainfall and other hydrologic variables in the Bahamas, assessment of current and past hydrodynamics of Salt River Bay, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands, and investigation of double exposure vulnerability of small-holding farmers in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica. 

Bahamian Hydroclimatology: The Bahamian monitoring project has been housed at the Gerace Research Center, College of the Bahamas, San Salvador Island since 2001.  The project collects data for use in collaborative research that links climate to karst processes, the microbiology of inland lakes, the distribution of invasive tree species, and island water resource development.  Initially, this research focused upon assessing the climate of flank margin caves on the island with an attempt to assess the potential of condensation-corrosion as a cave growth process.  This work served as the basis for similar analysis on other carbonate islands (Puerto Rico and Guam) and a preliminary conclusion that the probability of condensation-corrosion increasing cave volume in these locations is very low.  This research continues to date with data collection on cave microclimatology that will assess the process of condensation-corrosion and other geo-chemical processes over a longer time-period.  Beyond the research of the link between cave climatology and cave formation processes, data from a rain gauge network has also been used to assess the spatial variability of precipitation across San Salvador.  The majority of current literature suggests that a small island with low relief such as San Salvador will experience little spatial variability in precipitation.  However, field observations over the past fifteen years indicate it is common on San Salvador for one location to be experiencing rain and the rest of the island to be dry.  Preliminary analysis of the data collected indicates that subtle differences do exist in rainfall amounts across the island but these differences are not statistically significant.  A new aspect of this research, recently started with a seed grant from UNC Wilmington, is the use of LANDSAT satellite images to assess cloud cover over San Salvador and link these cloud patterns with rainfall occurrence.  The results from this research project are being used by by geographers to assess the distribution of invasive tree species and by hydrologists to assess areas of the island with the greatest potential for freshwater supply. 

LACR weather station at the Gerace Research Center, San Salvador, Bahamas (left), and  Former LACR research assistants Crump, Faircloth, and Lambertson instrumenting Crescent Top Cave San Salvador (right).

FCIR LANDSAT satellite image of San Salvador, Bahamas.

 

St Croix Landscape History: The research project on St. Croix is an effort to monitor current rainfall  in Salt River Bay, analyze historical records of rainfall on St. Croix, and link these two types of rainfall data to paleo-climate data derived from sediment cores taken out of Salt River Bay and inland ponds upstream of the Bay.   The expected result of the project is a long-term history of the hydrodynamics of the Salt River Bay and how a succession of populations (Taino, Spanish, French, Maltese, Danes, and the United States) have impacted the estuary.  This research is being completed in collaboration with Dr. Chad Lane, Geography and Geology, UNC Wilmington, who is an expert in sediment core analysis and the paleo-climate of the circum-Caribbean.  Further, it is hoped the results useful to National Park Service efforts to manage the Salt River Bay.

Post doc researcher Amy Wagner and graduate students Paula Reidhaar and Jen Zivkovic prepare to take a sediment core from Mangrove Lagoon, St. Croix (left) and Jen Zivkovic, Amanda Tedick, Doug Gamble and Chad Lane secure coring platform on Fredensborg Pond, St. Croix (right).

Amanda Tedick, Chad Lane, and Palua Reidhaer prepare to core dried pond in Windsor Forest, St. Croix (left) and Doug Gamble, Chad Lane, and Amy Wagner work on weather station in Salt River Bay, St. Croix (right).

 

Drought, climate change, and Jamaican agriculture: The research on San Salvador has lead to broader research questions about the hydroclimatology of the entire Caribbean, particularly the Caribbean mid-summer drought (MSD).  The Caribbean MSD represents a decrease in rainfall between June and August, a time of year that conventional wisdom suggests should be rainy due to atmospheric instability and high frequency of tropical storms.  Scott Curtis, East Carolina University, and I began to investigate the spatial variation in the Caribbean MSD and its link to the North Atlantic high pressure cell.  In 2007, we received funding from the National Science Foundation's Geography and Regional Science and Climate Dynamics Programs to complete this work.  This MSD research lead us to the realization that the MSD, and drought in general, represent a significant hazard to agriculture across the Caribbean.  Consequently, Scott, myself and Jeff Popke, also from ECU, developed a project to investigate the of impact of climate change, economic change, and drought upon agriculture in Jamaica.  We received funding to complete the work from NSF's Geography and Spatial Science Program in 2013.  This project examines the vulnerability and adaptation strategies of  Jamaican farmers in response to their ‘double exposure’ to both climate change and market volatility.  Drawing on climate data and interviews with farmers in St. Elizabeth Parish, we highlight some of the regional manifestations of climate change, and the ways in which climate stressors impact the market conditions that farmers face.  Initial results indicate that farmers in Southwestern Jamaica are experiencing a combination of decreased rainfall in an early planting season and an overall increase in seasonal precipitation variability.  Due in part to this increased uncertainty in precipitation, farmers are also facing greater volatility in farm gate prices, with alternating periods of market glut and scarcity.    This changing climate/price regime is leading to a variety of farm-level adaptation strategies, including changes to planting methods and timing, new forms of water management, and the adoption of new agricultural technology. 

Deployment of instruments with farmer in Hounslow area (left); rain gage, soil moisture probed and temperature logger deployed in peanut field Hounslow area (right).

Scallion field with guinea grass mulch to conserve soil moisture (left) and thyme field in front of Manchester Mountains (right).

 

In all of these research activities, I have involved students in the research process.  Over the years, I have had students accompany me to the Caribbean, conduct interviews on the beaches of North Carolina, complete satellite analysis, and co-author journal articles.  If you are a student interested in these research projects, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Page designed by Ryan Jordan.

Updated by Doug Gamble 11/13
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